Yesterday, Jonathan Rosenbaum, frustrated from immature and even idiotic reaction to Godard’s new film, Film Socialisme, wrote in his site:
“Most striking for me in the current fracas has been the exhuming of an offensive statement Godard made to the American press 40 years ago, expressing his hope that the three astronauts on Apollo 13 would die in outer space — a statement now used simply as a way of dismissing anything Godard might possibly do or say today. Having just recently seen Film Socialisme myself, without any subtitles and with only fitful comprehension of the dialogue, I was impressed not only by the film’s singularly fresh, daring, and often beautiful employments of sound and image, but also by its tenderness towards virtually all the contemporary characters and figures in the film (including the many animals) —a virtue I don’t find in the least bit present in For Ever Mozart. I guess it’s also worth noting that Film Socialisme tries to say something about the contemporary world, Europe in particular, an impertinence that isn’t shared by such harmless, good-natured fare as Inglourious Basterds. But none of the film’s tenderness towards its own characters can be said to be extended towards the preferences, habits, expectations, or overall well-being of the mainstream reviewers at Cannes — which I suppose makes everyone else potential members of a coterie of insiders.”
I remember in another occasion, a documentary about Slavoj Žižek, I saw a picture of comrade Stalin hanging on the wall of Zizek home’s entrance hall, “to insult visitors”. Though I don’t trust his exhibitionist philosophy, but I trust him, when later he tells to the interviewer that he has written more than anybody else about the horrors of Stalinism for humanity and democracy, and by hanging this picture, he’s just addressing something “reversely”. I don’t know the context of Godard’s unacceptable and foolish comment, but I’m sure all those critics who are using this against Godard are not aware of it, too. Let’s not forget the heritage – and sometime the courage – of this reverse statements in history of French culture and just remember the other outrageous statements which were expressed, only to provoke the listeners about the catastrophic consequences of giving up to the dominant ideology and media. When Louis Aragon, another French intellectual, expressed his hatred for French army, on the verge of a war, and said “I throw up on you, from head to the feet,” (needless to say, it caused a riot at the time) from his own view, he was addressing the disastrous situation with a surrealist attitude which is not very pleasant for those who have used to lies and sweet talk.
I’m not defending Godard, but I try to not forget his cultural background and what he has done for us with one of the most comprehensive body of works in 20th century. Unfortunately, in his reckless statement he has wished the death of astronauts, but in reality, and in his works, he has saved thousands.